WASHINGTON: May See Individual Insurance Policy Bill
Lawmakers, insurance industry representatives and state officials are racing to meet Gov. Gary Locke's (D) challenge to submit a proposal before the end of the legislative session on April 25 that would "stabilize the market for individual health insurance." Sue Crystal, the governor's health care advisor, said the goal is to make individual policies affordable so small, new companies "can do business in Washington." Individual health insurance policies are "now unavailable in 15 of the state's 39 counties." Managed care executives complained that burdensome state regulations made their companies "vulnerable to people who bought policies when they experienced either an illness or a pregnancy, only to drop their insurance when they got well," resulting in millions of dollars in lost profits. HMOs boosted premiums in response, but the higher rates merely drove more healthy customers away. Premera Blue Cross, Regence BlueShield and Group Health Cooperative are collaborating with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the state House Health Care Committee and the state Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee to develop a proposal to help stabilize the market (Erb, Puget Sound Business Journal, 3/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.